About the Artists

Kimberly Kirklin, Director of UAB Arts in Medicine
Kimberly served as the director of education and outreach at the ASC from 2005 – 2014. Kimberly played a major role in the creation of ArtPlay, the ASC’s arts programs for schools, underserved communities, and seniors in non-hospital settings. In 2013, she led the expansion of the ASC’s reach into the healthcare community. A pilot program she co-created is now UAB’s Institute for Arts in Medicine (AIM), a partnership between the ASC and UAB Medicine. Kimberly has a BM in Musical Theatre from the University of Miami in Florida, an MA in Arts Administration from Goucher College in Towson, MD, an MA in Arts in Medicine from the University of Florida, is a 200-hr registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance, and is currently pursuing an MA in Counselor Education from UAB.

Lauren Edwards, Program Coordinator of UAB Arts in Medicine
Lauren received a BA in Theatre from the University of Alabama at Birmingham while also studying Social Work. Using her backgrounds in both Artist Management and Social Services, Lauren joined the AIM team in 2017 and currently serves as the Program Coordinator. Lauren is passionate about bringing the arts to everyone and firmly believes that art plays a crucial role in creating healthy & thriving communities. In her free time, Lauren is deeply imbedded in the Birmingham Theatre community where she works as a freelance Stage Manager. Lauren is currently pursuing a Masters of Clinical Social Work at UAB.

Hon K. Yuen, OTR/L, PhD, Senior Scientist
Hon is a Professor and Director of Research in the Department of Occupational Therapy with a joint appointment in UAB Arts in Medicine (AIM), UAB. His clinical background is in occupational therapy with doctoral training in Research, Evaluation, and Measurement Methodology. He has been the principal investigator on several NIH and foundation grants studying the effects of therapeutic movement such as theater and exergame to improve physical functioning and quality of life among older adults with chronic conditions.

Helene Taylor, Visual Arts
Helene was a pre-school teacher for 10 years, led a parent-infant group, and taught in many after-school programs; including her own Art in the Park- a community art program in Avondale. Taylor would walk into the Avondale Library acting like the pied piper carrying buckets of paint asking, “Who wants to paint today?” Helene manages her husband; Trés Taylor’s, art career but is most fulfilled when she is teaching art.

Melissa Turnage, Dance and Movement
Melissa has been a dance teaching artist in Georgia, Maryland and Alabama. Since moving back to Alabama nine years ago she has worked extensively in rural and city public schools, integrating dance with core curriculum. Melissa has over 40 years of experience in the dance field; performing, choreographing and teaching. Classically trained in ballet her expertise in creative movement and dance fundamentals has enabled her to teach all ages and abilities. She is currently a teaching artist for the Birmingham Board of Education and is an adjunct professor of dance at Birmingham Southern College.

Salaam Green, MS, Expressive Writing & Poetry
Salaam is an award-winning poet and author, a 2020-21 Eco-Poetry Fellow, A Reimagining Justice Fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the 2016 Poet Laureate for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a TEDx speaker Birmingham alum, a social entrepreneur, and a daughter of Alabama’s Black Belt. As the owner and founder of Literary Healing Arts and Red Couch Writers, she can be found helping others write to heal on red couches across the city, thanks to her experience as an expressive writer, Racial Healing Facilitator, and healer.

She is a New Economy Coalition Climate Solutions Fellow and an advocate for environmental and restorative justice in rural Alabama. A writer and storyteller who facilitates writing-to-heal workshops as an artist-in-residence with UAB Arts in Medicine, Salaam’s work has appeared in The Birmingham Times, Scalawag, Bust, Feminist Review, Black Youth Project, Elephant Journal, Southern Women’s ReviewAL.comBirmingham Arts Journal, and more.

UAB Medicine artists, Valerie Hanks, Art Therapist

Valerie Hanks, Art Therapist
Valerie received her Associates of Applied Arts Degree in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Houston and her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Art in Art Therapy at St. Mary of the Woods College. In addition to working as a graphic designer and art director for over 20 years, she has been involved in humanitarian work with orphanages in Ukraine as well as hosting groups of orphan children state-side. Her own personal journey of adopting older orphan children internationally has given new insight and desire to explore the healing and therapeutic power of creative expression to reach individuals and families through art therapy.

UAB Medicine artists, Haleigh Black, Musician

Haleigh Black, Musician
Haleigh has been exploring the world of music for 24 years as a violinist and vocalist. Singing and playing violin have given her opportunities to study how people across the globe are connected and moved by music. In 2018 and 2019, she spent nine months studying traditional music in Turkey, Greece, and Israel. Today she performs various genres of music, from far and near, to help soothe people and offer them a positive human connection.

UAB Medicine artists, Cristal Brister, Theatre

Cristal Brister, Theatre
Cristal Laraé Brister is a creative catalyst for change. She draws on a background of over 14 years of experience in traditional and Applied Theatre, youth development, the nonprofit sector, and community building. Her interests lie at the intersection of the arts, advocacy, and policy. Cristal is the Owner and Principal Facilitator of Cristal Clear Strategies and is personally committed to elevating the voices of those whose stories have been historically marginalized. In her personal artistic practice, you will find her completing the final draft of her first one-woman show, (set to premiere in June 2023!), and acting on stage and on camera.

UAB Medicine artists, Sarah Heath, Sewing & Embroidery

Sarah Heath, Sewing & Embroidery
Sarah Heath received her BFA in sculpture from the University of Kansas and her MFA from the University of Georgia, where she graduated with distinction. Sarah lives in Birmingham Alabama where she has been an adjunct professor at UAB since 2016. She has also been a STEM educator, teaching in Career Technical Education at the high school level. Sarah is a true believer in the power of art to aid in healing and recovery. For 5 years she worked as an art specialist for the eating disorder treatment center, Alsana. She is currently studying to become a licensed clinical therapist. She has taught classes, workshops, and done community outreach through the arts at Birmingham Museum of Art, Children’s Hospital, The Dance Foundation, The Interfaith Hospitality House, MAKEbhm, ArtPlay, YWCA of Central Alabama, Camp Sawyerville, aTeam Ministries, Aletheia house, and First Light Shelter. Sarah is represented by Gallery 1930 in Birmingham.

Avivi Behel, Artist
Avivi Behel is a professional calligrapher, hand engraver, and visual artist who’s been featured in national publications. A self-taught artist, she has a degree in communications from Auburn University. Her eclectic work experience as a childbirth teacher and doula, in ministry, in sports and health care marketing, in the nonprofit sector, and in owning her own calligraphy business all have pointed to this space and time as an artist with UAB Arts in Medicine (AIM). It’s her joy and journey to meet people where they are, with the tools they’ve been given and developed, and walk alongside them to create in ways they may not have imagined possible. She finds inspiration in the kindness of her husband, the paths blazed by her adult daughters, the majesty of creation, and almost anything made of chocolate.

Kim Richardson

Kim Richardson, Teaching Artist
Kim Richardson’s passion is cultivating inclusive yoga spaces. She is a 500-hour registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance and also holds designations as a registered children’s yoga teacher (RCYT), registered prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT), and an e200-RYT with over 1,000 hours of teaching experience. She also has completed training and is a candidate to obtain her certified yoga therapist (C-IAYT) designation. With extensive training in trauma-informed approaches and accessible yoga practices, Kim has a gift for engaging individuals of all abilities. Armed with a Master of Science in urban studies, she firmly believes that yoga can be a powerful tool for transforming communities and reducing health disparities. In 2023, she was recognized as a national finalist for the International Association of Yoga Therapists’ Seva Award for community service in under-resourced communities.

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